Feature: Nationally recognized Monarchs
Outside hitter Corinne Acosta and libero Katelyn Kirkman represent county on All-American watch list
By Patrick Dillon
EXETER – The 2018 AVCA Under Armour All-America Volleyball watch list was released recently. On it are the best high school volleyball players from around the country. Two names included on the list are Exeter’s outside hitter Corinne Acosta and libero Katelyn Kirkman. The two Monarchs are the only players from Tulare County to make the list, adding to the resurgence of the program.
“It just shows how deep we are and that the tradition is coming back alive,” Exeter head coach Samantha Hilvers said. “It helps that these players have girls to look up to from seasons past and they see where the bar is set at.”
Acosta, who is the reigning Central Sequoia League Most Valuable Player, is having more production this season than any of her three years on varsity. In the 31 sets she has played she already has 138 kills which translates to a 4.5 kills per set average. That is a kill and a half more than she finished with during her junior season. She adds a .316 hitting percentage, 12 aces, and 11 blocks to her outstanding stat line.
“I am just happy that all my hard work has paid off and that people are noticing how much work I have put in,” Acosta said.
During Acosta’s first two seasons with the Monarchs that fact she could hit the cover off the ball was made clear. Still her strong suit she has continued to develop a change-up style hit which has caught many opposing blockers off guard. Her versatility to not only hit the ball hard but around blocks has many who have never seen Exeter play before taking notice
“She can take complete control of a game and change everything for us,” Hilvers said. “When she is on, she is on, and there are very few times when she isn’t.”
On defense Kirkman has been able to return virtually every ball hit her way. She has 212 serve receptions and 111 digs on the season. In 31 sets played she is over a third of the way to surpassing her last year’s total of serve receptions and averages 3.6 digs per set. She also has five aces to her credit.
“I am not surprised but very excited I guess you could say,” Kirkman said. “I’ve worked really hard and have come a long way.”
The liberos role is often misunderstood by many. All that anyone is the player wears a different color jersey than the rest. But in fact the position is crucial to the defensive strategy of a team. For the Monarchs they have one of the best in the CSL. Coach Hilvers has even had to move other players up from the back line and leave Kirkman alone to cover the entire back half of the court.
“I can tell her to play a certain area and she will cover it,” Hilvers said. “Nothing goes down on our back row.”